Aberdeen Grammar are now five points adrift at the bottom of the National Two table after a 43-13 defeat to relegation rivals Berwick on Saturday.
The Rubislaw side travelled south to Scremerston knowing that a positive result was crucial to give them a boost ahead of the league run-in, but it was the hosts who had their tails up and secured an emphatic bonus point triumph.
It means that Grammar are in the relegation spot on 15 points with four matches left to play while Berwick now have 20 points and have five matches to go.
Eighth-place Stirling County lost to Kirkcaldy so are on 23 points with five games left to play.
Berwick were 17-0 up at the weekend after 24 minutes and never really looked back.
They led 29-3 at half-time and although Grammar battled and scored two tries in the second period it was not enough.
Dan McElderry kicked the first half points for Grammar from a penalty while youngsters Brodie MacGruer and Elliot Mason, two bright sparks on a tricky day, were the try scorers.
“Berwick thoroughly deserved their win to be fair,” Grammar head coach Eric Strachan said.
“They outplayed us in terms of application and determination and limited our set piece possession.
“The lads will have to dust themselves down and have a hard look at themselves as we were not at the races in the first half and that will never equate to winning.
“There are 20 league points left for us to play for, but we will have to lift the performance level significantly if we wish to make a fight of it (in terms of staying up).”
Narrow defeat for GoGos
In the same division, there was disappointment for Gordonians who lost 32-31 at home to Lasswade.
The result leaves Gordonians fifth and Lasswade fourth, but the Midlothian side are now 11 points ahead.
“It was very frustrating,” said Gordonians head coach Ryan Morrice.
“We never managed to get any consistency against a very experienced and streetwise Lasswade team.
“As we struggled to build momentum we ultimately gave away cheap penalties and put ourselves under unnecessary pressure. When we went forward we played some good stuff.
“It was another hard lesson for this young squad as there have been a few games now that we have let get away from us, but it just shows how competitive this league is – you can’t keep passing up opportunities or you get punished.”
An early David Taylor unconverted try gave Gordonians the perfect start here before Laswade went 10-5 up.
A five-pointer from Archie Falconer made it 10-10, but just before half-time two converted tries gave Lasswade a 24-10 advantage.
A tough first home game for Glasgow Warriors Women sees Wolfhounds take the win. pic.twitter.com/5eBUizYAqm
— Glasgow Warriors (@GlasgowWarriors) January 13, 2024
Falconer scored two more tries in the second half, one converted by Ross Birnie, but a penalty from Lasswade saw them leading 32-24 after 72 minutes.
A try at the death from Chris McIlroy, converted by Birnie, meant that Gordonians took two bonus points from the match, but Lasswade took the win.
Bonus point for Highland
In National One, it was not a vintage performance from Highland, but they managed a bonus point 26-23 win at bottom side GHK.
It means that they sit third in the table and still have their eyes on a second place finish behind league winners Ayr.
With three games apiece left, they are on 46 points with Melrose on 49 points and in second.
Still playing in Glasgow where time is going backwards. Anyway GHK manage to get in for their 4th try. The conversion comes off the post.
FULL TIME in the 53rd minute is@GHKRFC 23-26 @HighlandRFC pic.twitter.com/PRwtA0fDon
— Highland Rugby Club 🦅 (@HighlandRFC) January 13, 2024
GHK led 5-0 in Glasgow heading into half-time until Kev Brown’s try made it 5-5.
Co-captain Scott Fraser came on at the break and his converted try made it 12-5 before GHK made it 12-10.
Two converted tries from Rupeni Rokoduguni gave Highland a bonus point and a 26-13 lead before two late tries from GHK, but the Inverness men held on.
Dave Carson, the Highland head coach, said: “It wasn’t a great performance, but GHK are fighting for their lives and the boys dug in to get the bonus point win and that’s what matters.
“We know we need to sharpen up going forward and we are looking forward to home games with Gala and Ayr now.”
The Orkney-Hamilton Bulls match in National Three was postponed while Garioch’s Nikki Simpson and Glasgow Warriors women lost 40-12 at home to Wolfhounds in the Celtic Challenge.